Thursday, October 19, 2006

From One Stroger to the Next: Will Tony Peraica End the Stroger Reign for Cook County Board President?

With the election right around the corner, Illinois is home to not only two of the hottest races for U.S. House of Representatives seats, a phenomenally close gubernatorial race, but also Cook County’s very own race for Board President.

Voters tend to focus on the high profile races, like the race in the sixth congressional district between Peter Roskam (R) and Tammy Duckworth (D) for a vacant seat in the House. The Cook County Board President race has been lurking in the shadows since the primary election held in March 2006, though it has been gaining more publicity.

Earlier this year, Forrest Claypool ran against incumbent John Stroger for the seat. Polls tipped in his favor a few weeks before the election, but the votes cast on Election Day named Stroger the winner. Interestingly enough, John Stroger suffered a stroke around election time. With his son Todd Stroger as his spokesperson, John Stroger announced that he would continue his job as Cook County Board President, though he made no public appearances.

On June 30, Todd Stroger delivered his father’s resignation and announced the news to the media. The Democrats, faced with a vacant seat, looked within their own party and a few weeks later, nominated Todd Stroger as the replacement candidate for his father with Tony Peraica as the Republican candidate.

Todd Stroger

Stroger is currently the Alderman for the 8th Ward in Chicago and is running for the vacant seat of Cook County Board President. After the Democratic Party’s backing, Stroger has started campaigning heavily, though his position in the race has been controversial.

Stroger’s platform includes: improvement and preservation of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, improvement and addition of new programs to the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and the appointment of an Independent Inspector General to manage and investigate misconduct, fraud etc by Cook County government.

His long list of endorsements includes U.S. Senators (Sen. Obama and Sen. Durbin), Mayor Richard Daley, and interim Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele. In addition he has endorsements from Representative Rush, Jackson Jr. Lipinksi, Emanuel, and Schakowsky.

Tony Peraica

Peraica is the Republican candidate and currently holds one of the seats in the 16th District Cook County Board of Commissioners. An attorney by profession, Peraica has done nearly the impossible in local politics; he has made the race a hotly contested one. Cook County and Chicago politics have made the area an overwhelmingly Democratic one.

Peraica’s platform includes: improvement of the county’s budget with a vow to halt tax increases, new economic development programs that would target impoverished communities, plans to improve the Forest Preserves District in Cook County, “trimming the budget, privatizing key functions, eliminating duplicative and wasteful inefficiencies and creating a comprehensive and county wide health care delivery network”.

Peraica’s endorsements include The Chicago Tribune, The Gazette Newspapers, and many local elected officials. It is unclear whether the Democrats who where rooting for Claypool will now contribute their energy to bringing Tony Peraica as Cook County Board president.


The race has clearly become a heated one where polls change frequently, with one candidate taking the lead one day only to have the other be ahead in the polls the next day. Oddly enough, tough the Democrats carry the City of Chicago and most of Cook County; Peraica has taken the lead in many communities where former Claypool supporters or disenfranchised voters are saying that they want to rid the city of nepotism.

One of Stroger’s biggest challenges this election is to ward off accusations of his “inheritance” of the seat. Voters are increasingly unhappy with the unofficial but widely held practice of “handing over the seat” to family members for city offices. If Stroger can survive those types of voters, he has the advantage of name recognition over that of Peraica, essentially a newcomer into the “big leagues” of politics.

Periaca may get support from former Claypool supporters but Stroger has name recognition. Which one will win?

Only voters can decide on Election Day.

*CAIR-Chicago is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any candidates*


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